Highway 7 entering Fort Liard. Charlotte Morritt Jacobs/APTN
Four nominees are set to appear on the ballot in the Acho Dene Koe First Nation’s latest attempt to hold an election originally scheduled for June 2020.
The Fort Liard-based First Nation twice used pandemic-related federal legislation to postpone the election, then an appeals committee ordered that the results of an April 2021 election be scrapped.
Since then, a court has ruled the First Nation didn’t have the authority to postpone its election in the first place. An acting sub-chief is in charge until the election of a new chief eventually takes place.
A fresh attempt to hold the election in September this year was scrubbed in favour of work to amend and ratify Acho Dene Koe’s custom election code.
An election is now scheduled for February 2, 2023.
Acho Dene Koe First Nation returning officer Graeme Drew issued a notice on Friday declaring that Floyd Bertrand, James Duntra, Eugene Hope and Frank Kotchea Sr are nominated for the position of chief.
Hope was the First Nation’s chief between 2017 and 2020. Bertrand, also a former chief, has pursued a lengthy court battle against the First Nation over both the delay to the electoral process and an initial decision to exclude him from the list of candidates because of an alleged debt. A one-person appeal committee later ordered that Bertrand be allowed to run for office.
That appeal committee decision came in June 2021. In August 2022, a lawyer for Bertrand called for an election to be held “with due haste” and with Bertrand’s name on the ballot.
Nominees have until Wednesday, December 8 to withdraw if they choose. A finalized list of candidates will be published on the following day, Drew said in a news release, adding that Thursday’s list will also confirm nominees meet the eligibility criteria defined in an election code that was newly ratified in October.
Whoever wins the election will become the First Nation’s chief until April 2024, when the next election is scheduled, Drew stated.